book reviews · Bookish

Containment by Vanda Symon (Review)

Happy Friday! Today I’m pleased to be part of another fab Orenda blog tour, bringing you a review of Containment by Vanda Symon, book 3 in the Sam Shepard series. This is out now in both Kindle and Paperback formats. I was sent a copy of this book free for review purposes.

Containment is the third book in the Sam Shepard series. This book reads just fine if you’ve not read the previous installments. Sam(antha) has been promoted to Detective Constable in the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Dunedin. Sam’s life is a little chaotic and she has a lot of problems, but thankfully, her flatmate Maggie will pull her up on them and her colleague has her back at work.

The book immediately jumps in with the drama, when containers wash up on the shore along with the remains of a body. As first officer on scene, Sam gets to control the investigation and it’s her job to figure out just who, how and what the heck happened. The public are making things difficult as people are looting the containers that washed up. Unfortunately, one of the looters doesn’t respect Sam’s authority as an officer, but a member of the public has her back.

DI Johns uses that event as an excuse to try and sit her on the bench and assign her to more menial tasks, tasks that end up becoming quite relevant to the case. DI Johns is a wonderfully written unlikeable character and I found myself frustrated at him for his behavior. Meanwhile, Sam is clever, a little stubborn and pretty tough, but she’s also very human, very believable and has plenty of ups and downs along with the struggle of working in a team dominated by men.

Containment is incredibly immersive – as I have aphantasia, sadly, this level is description is a negative for me as I just can’t put my head in the environments no matter what, I just can’t *see* it (and with the current state of affairs, I struggle to get in to things a little more than usual in general, I’m noticing), but it is incredibly descriptive of New Zealand – I know for many people, this immersiveness is incredibly enjoyable. Combined with such a well written and balanced character, I think people could very easily get absorbed in to reading Containment and lets face it, that’s something a lot of people want from their reading material right now.

Containment is an excellent, dramatic police procedural that will hook you in, right from the start; with a strong, believable female lead who worries about her home life and her work life, this book is great for those who really like to get cozy and lose themselves in an atmospheric and well-paced procedural.

About the Book

Chaos reigns in the sleepy village of Aramoana on the New Zealand coast, when a series of shipping containers wash up on the beach and looting begins.

Detective Constable Sam Shephard experiences the desperation of the scavengers first-hand, and ends up in an ambulance, nursing her wounds and puzzling over an assault that left her assailant for dead.

What appears to be a clear-cut case of a cargo ship running aground soon takes a more sinister turn when a skull is found in the sand, and the body of a diver is pulled from the sea … a diver who didn’t die of drowning…

As first officer at the scene, Sam is handed the case, much to the displeasure of her superiors, and she must put together an increasingly confusing series of clues to get to the bottom of a mystery that may still have more victims…

Bookish · Uncategorized

Plotting in Novels – Val Penny (Guest Post)

Hey everyone! I hope you all had the most wonderful weekend! I’m kicking this week off with a Guest Post from Val Penny as part of a blog tour to promote her book Hunters Chase which is available now in both Kindle and Paperback formats. It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited and you can get a free 30 day trial of that here.

Take it away, Val!

    Thank you for having me on your blog today.

    I think that plotting is central to writing a novel, but it is a highly individual process. No two authors plot in the same way. Some plot organically while others plot in a very orderly fashion. Many writers even plot differently from one book to another. Some write scenes: hundreds of scenes that interest and excite them and then they stitch the scenes together to from the novel. While others visualise the way the book will take shape using dozens of bits of paper laid out on their desk or even on the floor. It must be important to make sure the windows are closed if you plot this way!

    Some authors use tree diagrams, spreadsheets or mind-maps to plot and there is software available to download on line for this.

    However you plot your novel, the goal is the same, to allow the journey the plot is about take, that will last several months, to become a novel. It is important that you, as an author, choose between the ‘organic’ and ‘orderly’ methods of plotting so you are comfortable that your choice works best for you and the book you are setting out to write. I plotted my first novel ‘Hunter’s Chase’ organically but, after attending a course run by Sue Moorcroft at last years’ Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, I plotted the sequel ‘Hunter’s Revenge’ using diagrams and spreadsheets. Neither is wrong. Both have strength and weaknesses and either can be successful for crafting a novel.

    Writers who follow an organic way of plotting, approach the outline largely as a form of awareness of the story, rather than as an actual document to be followed strictly. Many view the outline not so much as a planning device but more of an analytical tool that helps strengthen the final draft by indicating the flaws in the story-line.

    Some authors begin with an idea and just jump in to tell the story. They write steadily and regularly until they have written tens of thousands of words. Then they go through the organic draft and delete large chunks and add other pieces until the final manuscript is complete.

    Other authors, like Sue Moorcroft, plot meticulously and there is no doubt that plotting an outline is hard work. However, having undertaken an outline on ‘Hunter’s Revenge’, I found myself writing my novel with confidence. I was happy that one chapter followed another in a sensible sequence. My characters retained their identities. Of course, at the end of the first draft, there were flaws, but I found I was able to repair those readily.

    Whether you plot organically or in an orderly fashion, the important issue is that you can tell the story to your readers and that you, and they, are satisfied by your novel.

About the Book

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.
Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. 

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough. 

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

About the Author

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ and Hunter’s Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The third book in the series, Hunter’s Force, follows shortly.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Stoned Love by Ian Patrick (Excerpt)

Today I’m bringing you an excerpt as part of a blog tour for Stoned Love by Ian Patrick, out now and available both in Paperback and Kindle editions. Be sure to check out the other tour stops to find out more!

Blurb

Detective Sergeant Sam Batford has been lying low at a remote safe house in the highlands of Scotland. He’s doing his best not to attract the attention of the enemies he made, on both sides of the law, during his last under-cover operation but Batford knows he’s just killing time until he’s called to account.

Inevitably the sharks begin to circle and as Batford is called back to front-line action in London he’s thrown into a deadly game of cat and mouse where it seems everyone is out to get him.

After having to endure a frustrating resolution to their previous undercover operation together DCI Klara Winter from the National Crime Agency is determined to prove that Batford has crossed the line into criminality and finally bring him to face justice.

All Sam Batford wants is to outwit his enemies long enough to stay alive and come out ahead of the game.

StonedLoveAugust2018JPEG

Excerpt

This is 2020 and the consequences are kicking in. Times have changed since the public sector austerity measures were first imposed. The then home secretary became Prime Minister and still persisted with the draconian measures despite public backlash. Not even Thatcher touched the police and most thought she was brutal.

I put the kettle on the Aga and gaze out over the fields. I have a day to kill before my train from Edinburgh to London. I’ve enjoyed the break and the solitude. City life has ground me down. My problem is the pace and vibe of the city is in my blood. It’s part of my DNA. I love its tension coursing through my veins. I adore the adrenalin rush when a job comes off. I also enjoy the rich pickings from the criminals I infiltrate. I have no intention of completing thirty years service. I need to top up my pension pot before I leave though. I subconsciously check my leg and experience reassurance at the feel of titanium. I intend to upgrade and add to my prosthetic leg collection once this next job is over. Whatever my bosses have planned for me I always turn it to my advantage.

I watch the bull. He’s in the field for a purpose. His job is to fuck at every opportunity. He has no competition. He’s Mr Big surrounded by his bitches. He strolls over to a cow. She’s wary but carries on eating. As he approaches she flicks her tail. He takes the hint and mounts. A ton of muscle thrusts twice. Job done. Every bull has his day though. Old age will render him useless.

All lives have a price. The whistle indicates the water’s ready.

The thing I love about the police is they will always look after you. That’s unless you need to be further away than London for a cool off period. There are no mod cons or city flats to escape to here. The cottage has seen better days and lets just say the police estate doesn’t run to cover the costs of refurbishment or maintenance beyond a working fire alarm. Damp permeates the walls and paper hangs from the ceiling. The heating is oil and at least
they’ve kept up the contract to enable that still to work.


Ian Patrick Author Photo

About the Author

Ian spent twenty-seven years as a police officer, the majority as a detective within the Specialist Operations Command in London. A career in policing is a career in writing. Ian has been used to carrying a book and pen and making notes. Now retired, the need to write didn’t leave and evolved into fiction.

Rubicon is his debut novel published by Fahrenheit Press and Stoned Love the second in the series. Rubicon has been optioned by the BBC for a six part TV series.

He now lives in rural Scotland where he divides his time between family, writing, reading and photography.